Iceland moss

Botanical Name : Cetraria islandica
Family: Parmeliaceae
Genus:     Cetraria
Species: C. islandica
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class:     Lecanoromycetes
Order:     Lecanorales

Synonyms: Cetraria. Iceland Lichen.

Common Name :  Iceland Moss, Island cetraria lichen, Oriental cetraria lichen

Other names: Iceland Lichen, Eryngo-leaved liverwort

Habitat:Iceland moss grows abundantly in the mountainous regions of northern countries, and it is specially characteristic of the lava slopes and plains of the west and north of Iceland. It is found on the mountains of north Wales, north England, Scotland and south-west Ireland. In North America its range extends through Arctic regions, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and south in the Rocky Mountains to Colorado, and to the Appalachian Mountains of New England.A common plant in northern countries and in the mountainous part of warmer countries.
It grows on damp places, usually on rocks and the bark of trees, especially conifers.

Description:
Iceland Moss is a composite life form (lichen), symbiotic connection between algae and fungus. It has an appearance similar to moss. It is shrub-like plant, with crinkled, gray-green to dark brown forked branches. The upper side is darker; the underside is lighter, whitish. It grows up to 1, 2 meters in height.  The whole plant is tough and springy.
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Cultivation:
There is no known information on the cultivation of this plant. It requires clean air and is very intolerant of atmospheric pollution so cannot be grown in towns. See the plants native habitat above for ideas on how it can be encouraged to grow. This species is a lichen, which is actually a symbiotic association of two different species, one an algae and the other a fungus. It is very slow-growing. This plant is often used in commercially produced disinfectants.

Propagation :
The only way of reproducing this plant is vegetatively. Almost any part of the plant can be used to produce a new plant, simply separate a portion and place it in its new hom.

Edible Uses:
A jelly is made by boiling the whole plant. It is nutritious and medicinal. Rather bitter, it requires leaching, which can be done by changing the cooking water once or twice during the cooking process. The dried and powdered plant can be mixed with wheat and used in making bread. It is very bitter and the process required to leach it is far too time-consuming and tedious to be countenanced

Medicinal Uses:

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Parts Used :Lichen

Constituents: It contains about 70 per cent of lichen starch and becomes blue on the addition of iodine. It also contains a little sugar, fumaric acid, oxalic acid, about 3 per cent of cetrarin and 1 per cent of licheno-stearic acid.

Demulcent, tonic, and nutritive when deprived of its bitter principle. Excellent in chronic pulmonary troubles, catarrh, digestive disturbances, dysentery, advanced tuberculosis. Decoction, B.P. 1885, 1 to 4 OZ. Ground, it can be mixed with chocolate or cocoa.

Iceland Moss is strongly antibiotic and expectorant. It soothes irritated tissues, especially mucous membranes and is often used in cough medications. It eases dry cough and helps in case of a sore throat. It has beneficial results in cases of tuberculosis and bronchitis. It also controls vomiting, has excellent effects in treatment of gastroenteritis, loss of appetite and food poisoning. Used externally, the plant is an excellent remedy for vaginal discharge, boils and wounds.

Iceland moss has been used since ancient times as a cough remedy and has also been used in European folk medicine as a cancer treatment. In present day herbalism it is highly prized for its strongly antibiotic and demulcent actions, being used especially to soothe the mucous membranes of the chest, to counter catarrh and calm dry and paroxysmal coughs – it is particularly helpful as a treatment for elderly people. Iceland moss has both a demulcent and a bitter tonic effect within the gut – a combination almost unique amongst medicinal herbs. The whole plant is strongly antibiotic, antiemetic, strongly demulcent, galactogogue, nutritive and tonic. It is excellent when used internally in the treatment of chronic pulmonary problems, catarrh, dysentery, chronic digestive disturbances (including irritable bowel syndrome and food poisoning) and advanced tuberculosis. Externally, it is used in the treatment of boils, vaginal discharges and impetigo. The plant can be harvested as required throughout the year, preferably during dry weather, and can also be dried for later use. Use with caution. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Cetraria islandica for cough & bronchitis, dyspepsia, inflammation of mouth and pharynx, loss of appetite.
Other Uses:
Disinfectant; Dye.

A powerful antibiotic can be obtained from the plant and this has become a fundamental ingredient in a wide range of commercially produced disinfectants. A brown dye is obtained from the plant.

Known Hazards: Some herbs could react with certain medication. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor/herbalist before consumption of any herb.   Indigestion and nausea with large doses. Rare liver damage. Herb bitterness possible in breast milk .

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.health-from-nature.net/Iceland_Moss.html
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mosice52.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceland_moss

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cetraria+islandica

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